Co-management is increasingly being promoted and adopted for the management of fisheries resources. However, the complex and dynamic environments (in terms of the legal, bio-physical and human aspects) into which co-management initiatives are introduced mean that co-management is often neither simple nor straightforward. The issues and challenges associated with co-management are subject to increasing discussion and debate and the FMSP has important contributions to make based on the approaches, tools and methods developed and experiences and insights gained over the past eleven years of the Programme. There is a need to collate lessons learned and experiences and promote these widely in order to inform policy that supports co-management as well as future co-management initiatives.
First, the project developed products synthesising the lessons learned from developing the data collection and information sharing guidelines (R8462) and ParFish (R8464). A policy brief examining the policy implications of developing and/or supporting co-managed fisheries was also developed. Based on these, together with the adaptive learning guidelines (R7335) and information from other FMSP projects including, but not limited to, R6436, R7043 and R7334, a synthesis document was produced. Developing this synthesis highlighted an important issue regarding how co-management is defined and the implications that this has for how initiatives are implemented and the potential outcomes. In order to highlight the synthesis and to raise awareness of the other synthesis products, a co-management brief was also created.
In collaboration with R8462 and R8464 a joint communications strategy was developed that provided a coordinated approach to the promotion of materials from the three projects. This communications strategy promoted the various products to a wide range of target stakeholders including policy makers, implementing agencies, researchers and capacity development organisations.
FMSP projects had defined co-management in different ways, the most important differences being who should be involved and the nature of this involvement. Projects (e.g. R7834, R8285, R8397, R8462 and R8464) took the view that co-management was the sharing of responsibility OR authority for management between stakeholders, predominantly government agencies and resource users. Other projects, including R7335, R8292 and R8360, used a narrower definition where co-management represented the sharing of responsibility AND authority for management and that this should be in the form of a multi-stakeholder network with stakeholder groups each having differing degrees of participation in the management process.
These differences appear to have been due to the different tools that were being developed and their potential application. For example, in the case of adaptive learning it is crucial for successful outcomes that resource users and other stakeholders are represented in the decision making as well as other aspects of the management process. On the other hand there were tools developed in projects such as ParFish that could be applied in a wider variety of management arrangements so a broader interpretation of co-management had been used, perhaps to reflect this.